A Study Abroad Glossary

We asked our students to share their favourite new words and phrases learned during their study abroad experience:


ter mãos de fada
– literal meaning = “to have fairy hands”
– it means = to be able to cook well

Cada macaco no seu galho
– Literal meaning = “Every monkey on his [own] branch”
– It means = “to mind your own business”
(Interesting how they use monkeys, perhaps due to their prevalence in Brazilian wildlife / tropical country)

Dar com os burros n’água
– Literal meaning = “To get into water with donkeys/asses”
– it means = to do something that’s frustrating

Comer com os olhos
– Literal meaning = “to eat with your eyes”
– its means = “to envy someone/something very much”

Nossa’ (short for ‘Nossa Senhora’) = oh my God/general exclamation

‘… pra caramba’ is a phrase to add onto an adjective or verb. It translates roughly to ‘really/damn’ ie. ‘Bom pra caramba’ = ‘really/damn good’. (‘Pra caralho’ is a much ruder version, but is very popular in conversation especially with students.)

Pois é’ is a general conversation filler, something to say when someone else is talking, can be an affirmative phrase or just something on the end of a sentence.

Tipo’ = ‘like’, as in the filler word we use in English conversation but has no real meaning coz we use it, like, all the time.

Brazilians also use ‘a gente quer’ (= the people want) as opposed to ‘queremos’ (= we want) in almost every case, whichever verb it is. ‘A gente…’ + singular third person is much more popular than the third person plural version of any verb.

Also a Brazilian friend has taught me: é a vida, which means such is life.


Huff a dart” – smoke a cigarette


In Denmark, everybody uses “Tak“, regardless of where you’re from! Tak is Danish for thanks. It’s short, and allows you chuck a bit of Danish into a conversation with a Dane, just out of politeness really.


Le pogo – mosh pit


Morgenmuffel is someone that is grumpy in the morning and Kummerspeck literally means Grief Bacon and means ‘the excess weight gained from sorrow’. They are my two favourite new words from my year abroad.


Ma dai! – very useful in a lot of scenarios, it means ‘Oh, come on!’ in the sense of disbelief/impatience/humour etc.
Di maggio s’innamorano anche le civette – an old saying that means ‘In May even the owls fall in love’
Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi – a popular Italian saying that means ‘Christmas with your family, Easter with whomever you want’
Cosa vuoi dire? – means ‘what do you mean?/what are you trying to day?’
Non ci credo! – ‘I don’t believe it!’
Boh.. – this is a great expression (although not very helpful when you’re on the receiving end of it) and the most Italian of the ones I’ve come across. It’s meaning depends on the scenario and how the person wants to use it but it’s along the lines of ‘I don’t know/I don’t care/oh well/I know but I’m not going to tell you’.


During my time in Japan, I have learned and heard many Japanese people use the word ‘natsukashii‘ (なつかしい). It is similar to nostalgia, but more than that. It is much more sentimental. It brings you back to a time in your past that you remember, but you also remember all the feelings you had at that time. For example, smelling a scent that reminds you of a past holiday, hearing a song you used to love but forgot about, or seeing a TV show you loved as a kid and remember all the fun you used to have watching it.

I’m currently studying abroad in Japan and they have a word to describe people who love mayonnaise – マヨラー (mayora).
When something has a strong taste or flavour, they use the word こい (koi) to describe it.また遊ぼう (mata asobou) means ‘let’s hang out again’.


Bué – slang for “very”

Tempo das vacas gordas – expresion for referring to a time where resources were in abundance.


Tiquismiquis!!! means picky: don’t be so tiquismiquis…

My favourite Spanish word is “Zalamerías” which means “Sweet nothings” in English

Hacer migas
– literal meaning = “to make crumbs”
– it means “to hit it off [with someone]”
(Many Spanish idioms are centered around food)

En bocas cerradas no entran moscas
– literal meaning = “in closed mouths flies don’t enter”
– it means “if you keep your mouth shut, you won’t put your foot in it / cause any issues”

Soltar la sopa
– literal meaning = “to spill the soup” (another food idiom)
– it means = “to spill the beans” / reveal something interesting

Llamar al pan pan y al vino vino” (food related AGAIN)
– literal meaning = to call bread bread and wine wine”
– it means = “to call a spade a spade” / say something how it is


Fika‘ – to ‘fika’ or ‘have a fika’ means to take a break for some coffee and cake with friends. It’s about more than just having a coffee: it’s also about slowing down and enjoying each other’s company and it’s basically a religion in Sweden.

Lagom‘ – another Swedish word that doesn’t really have an exact translation. It means ‘just the right amount’ and can be used to describe everything from a feeling to portion sizes to the weather.


Whenever you try to speak Swiss German as a foreigner, Swiss people will think it fun to ask you to say the word “Chuchichächstli” which means kitchen cupboard and is really hard to pronounce for most foreigners, even if you speak German!

Entries by Daisy Clough, Viktoria Cologna, Joseph Elmes, Trish Gurung, Rachel Horne, Daniel King, Beth Kohler, Kendall Nield, Matthew Nijsten, Kathryn Price, Timothy Spurr, Julia Summers, Cameron Tallant, Stephanie Thornley, Charlie Vickers


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